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Galaxy S6 deep-dive review: Samsung's shining star

JR Raphael | April 6, 2015
With its Galaxy S6, Samsung finally delivers a phone that's both powerful and premium. Could it be the device for you?

01 samsung galaxy s6 2

I never thought I'd say this, but here we go: Samsung is about to release a beautifully designed phone.

It's true: The company long criticized for chintzy devices with cheap-looking plastics has finally upped its game. The Galaxy S6, launching on all the major U.S. carriers on April 10, is a phone that's as classy as it is capable. With glass-and-metal construction and plenty of horsepower to go with it, this latest flagship has the potential to reinvent Samsung as a serious player in the premium smartphone game.

The Galaxy S6 starts at $200 on contract or $600 to $685 outright, depending on where and how you buy it.

So what's the phone like to use in the real world -- and does it actually deliver when it comes to user experience? I've been living with the S6 for the past week to find out.

(For a hands-on evaluation of the S6's curved-screen sibling, click over to my separate Galaxy S6 Edge review.)

Body and display
As I noted in my first impressions, the Galaxy S6 still looks like a Samsung phone -- only better. On the front in particular, it retains the company's distinctive visual identity and bears a strong resemblance to past products in the Galaxy line.

When you pick the phone up, though, it immediately becomes clear just how much Samsung's approach to design has evolved. In place of the tacky faux-leather plastic of yesteryear is a smooth glass back -- and in place of the plastic posing as metal on the phone's perimeter is an actual aluminum frame. At last, Samsung's flagship phone feels like a high-end device.

In tech-familiar terms, the best way to describe the Galaxy S6 is as a mashup of the Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 4. It may not be the most original design, but it's a merging of classic styles that looks great and works well. In the U.S., the phone will be available in black, white or gold; the bolder green and blue hues shown off at Samsung's launch event are limited to international availability as of this writing.

At 5.6 x 2.8 x 0.27 in. and 4.87 oz., the Galaxy S6 is reasonably sized and comfortable to carry, with one caveat: The glass-centric design makes it somewhat slippery. I've had a few close calls when grabbing the phone out of my pocket over the past several days. The aluminum frame has a solid grip, though, so as long as you're careful to keep your fingers around the perimeter, the device isn't generally too hard to hang onto.


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